Donald Trump’s many harangues against free trade and immigration—not to mention his rhetorical penchant for the sexist, racist and ad hominem barbs—has prompted an exodus from the party that nominated him. Droves of Republicans would rather eschew their membership or defect across the aisle than share an affiliation with the GOP frontrunner. Even Thomas Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a longstanding pro-biz Republican bastion, excoriated Trump’s economic policies as populist and anti-corporate. His local counterpart, San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO and longtime Republican Matt Mahood, was so over Trump that he switched to “no party preference” after the June primary. That makes Mahood the first non-Republican Silicon Valley chamber chief in 16 years. His immediate predecessor, Pat Dando, was a grand-old-partier. As was Jim Cunneen. That brings us back to 2000, the year Steve Tedesco, a Democrat, stepped down as chamber CEO. “I guess I’ll come out of the closet,” Mahood told Fly, stressing that his personal political affiliation has no bearing on the chamber. “I simply cannot support our current presidential Republican nominee.” Like many Left Coast Republicans, Mahood says he’s socially liberal and fiscally conservative. A lot of it comes down to immigration reform—considered a bipartisan cause in Santa Clara County, where immigrants make up nearly half the workforce and hold $26.5 billion in annual spending power. In the South Bay, pro-immigrant groups once divided between labor and business have coalesced to support reforms for both unskilled and high-skill H1B immigrants. As evidence of the fledgling coalition, Mahood joined labor-backed immigrant rights groups at a gathering to denounce a U.S. Supreme Court decision that blocked sanctioned work opportunities for undocumented residents. In August, he again appeared with a mix of labor and business immigration reformers to promote a new study about the economic impact of the foreign-born workforce. And while chambers of commerce generally lean Republican, Silicon Valley's flagship business lobby plans to throw its weight behind a pair of federal immigration bills authored by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat.
130 YEARS OF CHAMBER CEOs
Matthew Mahood, 2011-present (No Party Preference)
Pat Dando, 2005-2011 (Republican)
Jim Cunneen, 2000-2005 (Republican)
Steve Tedesco, 1990-2000 (Democrat)
Ron James, 1974-1990 (Republican)
Sandy Webber, 1969-1974 (?)
Fred Burtner, 1964-1969 (?)
Russ Pettit, 1944-1964 (?)
Roscoe Wyatt, 1919-1944 (?)
D.B. Moody, 1886-1919 (?)
Correction: A previous version of this article inaccurately listed Ron James as a Democrat and Steve Tedesco as a Republican.